Out on another spring jaunt, this time around the town of Castricum. The weather continues to be eerily summery so the thought of heading for the dunes and beach appealed to me. I had not expected it to be so busy but on a day like today (Easter Sunday), why wouldn't it be? The trail through the Noord-Hollands Duinreservaat looks like a bicycle highway with riders of all ages in huge family groups, all welcoming spring with gusto.
|One of the lakes of the Infiltratiegebeid, where the waters of the Rhine are purified naturally by the dunes.|
About a kilometer inside the park is a brand new observation tower, which i managed to climb amidst the Dutch families. From the top (or near the top, it was too crowded on the upper deck), I could see that the dunes are covered by low forest with many pines--my guidebook says that Scots pines were planted in the dunes during the 1930s. Signs of industry toward the coast.
Continuing into the park, I reached a junction: knooppunt 14 is straight ahead (De Egmonde, 14km), knooppunt 97 to the left (Wijk aan Zee, 5.7 km). The latter, called the Meeuwenweg (the Ijmond route) is less busy. I take the former, the Zwarteweg, the superhighway. A bit further up, it turns north toward kp 14 (at which point you could also head straight west to the beach of Heemskerk, 0.5 km). This is the Van Oldenborghweg, a wide cobblestone lane through the dunes landscape. This trail is still busy but less so. I climb up on a hillock/lookout, where two young men are sitting as one strums a ukulele. The breeze holds a bit of a chill. There are little lakes to the north (which appear on the map as blue fingers) and some people have found sandy patches atop the surrounding hills to sun themselves.
This series of lakes is collectively known as the Infiltratiegebeid.
"Hier wordt het drinkwater van een half miljoen Noord Hollanders gemaakt."
Ducks floating upon these deep-blue strands, which make a pretty contrast to the beige-green landscape. The lake on the right has an island of bare trees occupied by a colony of black birds that seemed like a cross between coots and buzzards.
About halfway to 14, a trail cuts left to the beach. There's a bicycle parking lot--fairly busy today--and a branch-staircase over the dunes to the beach. Now I'm sitting atop the fine sand dunes with a commanding view of the wide straight beach. The sun is strong, the breeze mild.
I sunned myself, ensconced in a nook in the dunes. This calmed me. I now was in no hurry. Returning through the dunes, the cool sand between my toes, I encountered big extended families picnicking in enclosures in the dunes.
I continued toward point 14, traipsing through the dunescape. Reaching a road, I detoured west to Castricum-en-Zee. Very busy but I couldn't see anything of interest. Most likely there is an agglomeration of bars and restaurants down by the beach. Flocks of tanned blonde people filing down there. I turned around.
The path skirts the road to Castricum town. But the road is not busy and the path is set apart in a woodsy corridor. Very pleasant. Next it turns off the road toward point 16 and I find myself on the grounds of some kind of sanitarium, a woodsy compound with various therapy buildings. I reach a pond and find a most unusual sculpture on a grassy patch by the bank. A man and a woman, facing each other, carrying suitcases, as if they are ready to return to society and perhaps find each other.
|Returning to normal life.|
Didn't get much further this afternoon. Due to confusing signage I couldn't find knooppunt 16. After going around in circles for a while, I asked a woman on a bike if she could tell me the way to Castricum (in English though I could have said it in Dutch). She pointed yonder. I came to a busy roundabout and wasn't sure how to proceed. A sign pointed straight but it was just following a highway uphill. Got up to the point where the road overlooked a football field and figured that couldn't be right, so I zoomed back down to the roundabout. Still baffled, I figured I'd check the time on my cel phone. But I could not find it. I went back toward point 16 to look for it. It seemed I was destined to keep returning to that sculpture. There was the phone sitting on the bench. A sign pointed to the train station and I found it easily.